Writing a letter to yourself isn’t just a fun exercise for writers; everyone can (and should!) give it a try. You might wonder what should go in a letter to yourself, but the answer is, anything that is important to you!
Have questions you want to ask yourself? Feel free to include those in your memo! The specifics of what you put in your letter are less important than the act of writing the letter. These are just a few reasons why you should write a letter to your future self:
- Increase your level of gratitude
- Grow awareness in yourself
- Manifest your destiny by creating your future (I know this one sounds a little hippy-dippy but stick with me)
- Use it to measure, and achieve goals
Increase your gratitude
There is simply no shortage of science when it comes to linking appreciation to health benefits. According to Amy Morin, “Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences.”
Gratitude can help foster a sense of healing from trauma, along with other psychological benefits, such as a reduction of aggression and frustration. So be sure to include things that you are grateful for in your letter; this will remind your future self to remember when you were so thankful to be where you are right at this moment. In my letter to future me, I am grateful for the love of my husband and the fact that we were able to find one another:
Revel in how rare it is for two people to find real love in this world and hold onto it. Let alone two people with difficult childhoods.
Our lives are a journey, and sometimes when we get nearer to our end game goals, we can forget how excited we were to start!
Grow awareness in yourself
Writing a letter to your future self will help you see yourself in a whole new way. I look back at some of my journal entries and poems from high school, and two things are abundantly clear…I am so far removed from the angsty teenage me, but I am still the hopeless romantic I have always been.
Even though I have learned and grown immensely since those days, fundamentally, I am still me. The genuine, authentic me that I always knew I could be. I wrote myself a letter (for my 40-year-old self back in November) almost exactly four months ago, and this excerpt sums up the core of who I have always been and the kind of work that appeals to me:
I also expect that we keep writing about it and that our words have an impact on others who are struggling. There are so many people that struggle with childhood trauma, more than I ever thought possible. Maybe, just maybe, your voice has been a little glimmer of hope.
As a writer, it is still kind of terrifying to read old pieces. Just yesterday, I was proofreading and editing a different article I had written a few months ago, revamping it into new material. I spent nearly 10 minutes trying to fix the grammatical errors, thinking to myself, “What on earth were you doing when you wrote this…”
The truth is I was proud of that work four months ago, after a nearly 20-year writing hiatus. I had put myself out there, and the idea was good. The writing could have been better. Time and perspective will always help us be more self-aware. A letter to yourself will give you time to grow and the viewpoint to see your words with new wisdom.
Manifest your destiny and create your future
I saw something the other day that said, “The best future is the one I create.” I couldn’t agree more, but I also will acknowledge that building a future is hard work! It can get difficult to know where exactly you want to end up when you are bogged down in the day-to-day.
Writing a letter to yourself (3, 5, or even ten years into the future) is the perfect way to let your imagination run wild and dream big. I’m not talking about specific goals (yet) but rather the desire for a bigger, better future. Four months ago, I wrote:
Don’t let the uncertainty of failure, or the lie of security and stability, hold you back. You are the daughter of a rebel and a dreamer, and a brilliantly flawed man.
Despite their parenting mistakes, that blood runs through your veins. They were made up of all things wild and impulsive, propelled into the world by unharnessed trauma. You have been afraid to tap into all of that abandon before, because it may consume you. LET IT. Let it be the driving force.
It is your life, and this is your chance to express your wildest dreams. Giving these dreams a voice will help your thoughts move from present-day thinking to seeing the full potential. In a few short years, you could be living a whole different life. Now is the time for some SMART goals!
Measure and achieve goals
SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. A letter to yourself is the perfect time to spell these out! Write them down and get that energy out into the universe. How specific should you be? Here is a specific goal from my letter:
You might even be on your way to deliver a motivational speech or promote a new book at this exact moment.
I could see myself in the future using my childhood, education in leading teams, and passion for writing, delivering a speech to a group of at-risk students. I think this scenario will be more fulfilling than being a famous author, even though that would be the coolest thing ever!
The goal is measurable because I am not going to get there if I don’t write anything. There are steps along the way, like making the right connections and improving my work that will prove to be stepping stones.
Attainable is solely a matter of opinion. Don’t let any other person on this earth tell you that you can not achieve something. Sure, some people seem to arrive at their destination easier than others, but “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet (Bobby Unser).” You can prepare, and the opportunity will come if you are open to it and listen to your intuition.
This goal is relevant because it has to do with writing and becoming the person I see myself growing into. It is time-based since I addressed this letter to myself at 40. That is just about four years away! I can do it, and I believe you can too!
Write your letter and ask the hard questions
Don’t wait any longer, grab a pencil and paper (or a computer) and start putting your thoughts to good use! The appreciation for current aspects of your life will feel good. Self-awareness isn’t always easy to find, but it is precious.
Even if you don’t believe that you can manifest your destiny, you don’t have anything to lose by trying it out! SMART goals are a proven thing, and you can’t argue with that kind of business logic, right?
If you haven’t started yet because you don’t know where to begin, you could always start with the tough questions:
- Who are you, and what do you want in life?
- How are you going to get there? What actions will you do to get you one step closer every day?
- What is your biggest dream? Or your greatest regret? The thing you fear the most about your future?
- Describe your perfect life in detail; explain why those things matter.
- Remind yourself of the passions that you have put aside because life got in the way. Talk about how you will reclaim them.
Hopefully, these are enough ideas to get you going. Starting is the hardest part, so jump in and start writing. You will be glad you did, and if you want to receive an email from yourself, you can use FutureMe.org, or if you would like an actual letter, try Letter To Your Future Self. Either of these resources are a great place to get started!
Will you write a letter to your future self?
I hope this inspires you to write a letter to your future self. I composed mine to coincide with the day that I would have lived longer than my mom (who died one month and 15 days after turning 40). It is four years in the future, but I am honestly amazed at the progress I have made in just a few short months. If you would like to check out my letter in its entirety, you can read it here! After you write yours of course!